Become a stranger to remember

people exchanging a paper heart Photo by Kelly Sikkema from Unsplash  

It is interesting how a person you have never met can change your perspective on something. We pass strangers everyday, well maybe not as many during the pandemic, but some of them stick with us. 

Have you ever had an interaction with a stranger that took you by surprise? 

Over the weekend, a video popped up on my YouTube home page titled, “Who’s 1 stranger you remember,” from the YouTube channel “Thoraya Maronesy.” The video sparked my interest, leading me to sit for fifteen minutes scanning through my memory for a stranger that I remember. 

The stranger that came to mind was a woman back from when I was about ten years old. My mom and I were bringing our groceries to the car when a woman walked up to us and asked if we had any money she could use to fill up her gas tank. My mom didn’t have cash on hand but instead had the woman follow us to the nearest gas station to fill up her tank. While her car filled up, the woman shared with us that she was driving across the country with her daughter and only $5 dollars in her pocket. Her husband left her and she was driving to her parents house to live with them. The woman introduced us to her young daughter smiling in the carseat in the back. After hearing the story, and having five kids of her own, my mom opened the trunk of our car and handed the woman groceries and snacks for their trip. After the car was filled, the woman and her daughter thanked us and drove away. 

Remembering this selfless action by my mom and the strength of a stranger fighting for her daughter, it made me wonder if my friends and family had stories of strangers they remembered too. Here are some of their responses, which I have attributed using their initials. 

A.S.  was visiting her sister at college and she was really sad to leave to go back home after the trip. She was crying in the airport in the college town and a woman walked up to her. The woman gave her a hug and then walked away. The woman never said anything. The kindness of the stranger and the unexpected embrace stuck with A.S.

K.H. was about ten years old and a family member and her went into downtown Chicago one day to walk around and grab some dinner. At the time, her dad and her were workin on a huge coin collection and her dad wanted to take K.H. to a famous coin collector spot in the city. They both walked over and went inside and there was a man with a big paper bag sitting next to him in the store. The man was trading some valuable coins in and had a bunch of them in the bag. Being a curious person K.H. went over and looked inside the back and the man noticed. K.H.’s dad pulled her away and apologized to the man. The man was super nice and asked if K.H. and her dad were coin collectors. After the three chatted for a while, the man gave K.H. a necklace and bracelet with two coins on them. It made her so happy to receive such an unexpected gift. When they got home, K.H.’s dad looked up the coins on the internet and realized they were worth a lot, a couple hundred dollars a piece. It was such a generous act and shocked K.H. how selfless a complete stranger was to a little girl. 

Chicago city landscape at sunrise Photo by Brad Knight from Unsplash

P.L. said that while he was working in a lumber yard over the summer and he was wearing a University of Kansas jacket. A customer noticed the jacket and stopped P.L. to talk. The man asked if P.L. went to KU, and when P.L. responded yes, the man said he had also. The man stayed and talked to P.L. for over an hour, which was unusual according to P.L. as he said that most customers rarely stopped to talk to employees. P.L. and the man ended up having a deep conversation, something P.L. never had with any other customer. 

S.H. said that he remembered a stranger, driving a very expensive car, who ended up running out of gas in front of S.H.’s house. The man was so embarrassed to have run out of gas, considering the price of the car he drove. S.H. has extensive knowledge on cars, a garage full of tools to work on them and always has a couple gallons of gas on hand. S.H. put the gas he had in the man’s car and the man thanked him and left. A week or so later, the man driving the nice car stopped off at S.H.’s house and gave him a nice bottle of wine as a thank you. 

After watching the YouTube video and reading the stories that my friends and family turned in, I noticed a common theme. All of the strangers sparked an emotional connection, which was either unexpected or showed love and kindness which is not always expressed in such an open way today. 

My observations beg the question of why more people don’t show this love and kindness in their daily life. Each of these people remembered these situations because they restored confidence in the goodness of humanity. 

In a world woven with political disagreements, hatred, loneliness and many more heart-numbing experiences, people should more often go out of their way to express the goodness of humanity. Become that stranger that sticks in the memory of another because of the way you so selflessly put another person before yourself. 

be kind Photo by Vie Studio from Pexels